Monday, December 14, 2009

A Gift Guide with Heart.

The holidays are rapidly approaching (hurrah!) and I put together a few ideas for those who haven’t finished their gift shopping. This time of year can be a lot of fun, but can get out of hand when we think about how much stuff is consumed. From the gifts no one really needs to the insane amount of wrapping and cards to the numerous big family dinners, there is a mass consumption of stuff.

I think a bit of indulgence is allowed, and I certainly don’t want to be Scrooge. But instead of feeling like we need to get bigger and better presents to express our love, we can still buy gifts, but ones that are more thoughtful and in line with our values. Sprinkle this season with a few gifts and lots of family time.

And copious amounts of hot chocolate and cookies, of course.

Fair Trade

Last year, along with making most of my presents, I got lots of Fair Trade goodies to give to my family – chocolates, teas, and coffees. It was my little way of supporting Fair Trade with my money and introducing family members to Fair Trade goodies. If you’ve been trying to convince your dad for-ev-er to drink Fair Trade coffee, this might be your chance to introduce him to it! Equal Exchange has put together some baskets – some fabulous, last minute deals! (Although, they expire TOMORROW, December 15th, so you’d better order fast!)


Think reusable. Reusable shopping bags, reusable water bottles, reusable travel coffee mugs (or, if they shun drinking from reusable coffee mugs, get them one of these), and reusable towels (boo to paper towels!). Break your brother's disposable habit by filling a (reusable!) bag with lots of these goodies.


Got a friend who's addicted to big box stores, chain restaurants, and corporate coffee shops? Introduce her to what your town or city has to offer with some gift cards to a local business or two. Soon she’ll see how much more fun shopping local can be!


Maybe your mom keeps talking about going on some crazy fad diet (as she does every year) – encourage her to eat healthy (and eat, period! Crazy diets…bleh) by purchasing a share of a CSA. Depending on the CSA, she’ll get some form of delicious, local fruits and vegetables every week or month. Check out Local Harvest for more information or to find a CSA near you.

Clean & Green

Is your sister a tad OCD? As in, you’d rather eat off her bathroom floor than your kitchen table? If she’s using lots of bleach and other nasty chemicals, help her break the habit and keep a healthier home by giving her a basket full of fabulous cleaning supplies without all the nasties. Some of my favorite are this, this, this, and this. She will appreciate it, I promise.

Et Cetera

A few more ideas that may be a bit more sustainable than the average gift :
  • A donation to charity
  • Soy candles
  • An experience – a concert, dinner at a nice restaurant, or a play.
  • A microloan on
  • Essential oils
  • An iTunes gift card – digital music is less waste than a hard copy.
  • Shop around on Etsy and support handmade!
  • Paraben-free make up or nail polish without formaldehyde (um, ew)
  • Anything from Heifer International.
  • Homemade anything – from food to pampering kits.
  • Wood toys are much better than plastic ones for the kiddos in your life – they last longer and are more durable. (Bonus points if it’s sustainably forested!)
A note on waste

During the weeks from Thanksgiving to New Years, about 1 million additional tons of garbage to our landfills each week in the US. EACH week. As in, in ADDITION to the waste we already create. That is just crazy ridiculous. To help reduce this waste, give your gifts in reusable gift sacks or wrap your gifts in newspaper or other reused material. I promise, with a little creativity, they will look even nicer than those glossy wrapping papers!


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